Title: The Gods are Dead
By: Joanna C. Valente
Publisher: Deadly Chaps
Joanna C. Valente has secrets. Secrets that she taunts you with before swiftly pulling away. Reading her new pamphlet “The Gods are Dead” is both a dance and a mission to discover these secrets.
Using Tarot Cards as a basis (especially for titles: “The Fool Forgets who He is”; “The Hanged Man will Ghostwrite Your Life”) Valente crafts poems that fascinate and torture the brain in equal measure. Among the obscure hidden things are very real modern references. The cards of the Major Arcana engage in technology and celebrity culture as much as they do mysterious predictions. It is fair to say that this pamphlet is thick with dualities and duplicitous characters.
Just like a Tarot deck’s spread there are connections between the poems, as there are between cards. For example “The Magicians Day Job as Paparazzi” links back to the previous poem about The Fool. The poems also relate to the cards through their intense symbolism.
The titles Valente comes up with are just as impressive as her poems. My favorite is “The Hermit Used to Be the Guitarist in Your Favorite Band”. The length of her titles is reminiscent of the alt-lit movement in poetry.
Valente is an impressive poet with a deep understanding of people and their mysteries. I have no doubt her poems could crack open a mystical door in even the most ordinary of brains.